The end of an era – Cube Bikes

After two great years the time has come for me to bid farewell to one of my first sponsors who I felt really believed in me, Cube Bikes.

My relationship with Paul, Darryl and Jacques started out two years ago at the Dusi Mfula mountain bike race. I had won a competition they had held for an entry into the event and met them at the event. I rode with Hilton Frost and we did quite well and this seemed to impress the Cube gentleman. After some discussion we forged a partnership and built a great friendship from there.

The AMS HPA 100 was the first full suss bike I had ever ridden and I quickly fell in love with the bike. The bike also had an awesome blue and white spray job which received many cool compliments at races across the country.

In 2011 as I shifted my focus back to XC racing I decided to go back to a hard tail and was privileged enough to be put on the Cube Super HPC hard tail. In my opinion it was one of the leading 26” hard tail bikes in the world last year with a full XTR build, Easton EC90 wheels and a Fox Terralogic shock. The bike was so stiff and responsive yet the flex stays still sucked up some of the rougher terrain.

2011 was also the year which I received my first Cube road bike, the beautiful Litening Super HPC. The really cool thing for me at this stage was that both my bikes had exactly the same classic spray job! The Litening Super HPC is a great bike and extremely stiff and responsive in the sprint.

On a Belgian train going to the Ardennes for a XCO race.

Washing bikes on the small balcony in our Belgium apartment.

The third and final Cube mountain bike I was on was the AMS HPC 100. I had asked to move back to the fully for this year’s ABSA Cape Epic(I had ridden my first Epic on an aluminium hard tail bike in 2010 and can tell you it isn’t very forgiving at all). The bike was great and many commented on the green machine!

ABSA Cape Epic Prologue

Bridgestone Route 69

I would like to extend a big thank you to Paul, Darryl and Jacques for your amazing support over the last two years. I am extremely grateful for it and valued it hugely. I was proud to be an ambassador for the Cube Brand and loved riding your bikes.

Danke und auf wiedersehen!

RECM Garden Route 200

I was back on the road again last weekend, this time with the vehicle pointed in the direction of the coastal town, Knysna, and with Hasi at the wheel. Reason to be concerned? Not really, although there were a few speeding fines. He does blame this on my inability to point them out to him in time.

Asrin would have four teams taking part in the RECM Garden Route 200 3 day stage race. The race was unique in that there would be a different start venue but with the same finish venue each day. Tapa’s restaurant on Thesen Island would be the finish and it was a pretty cool race village with a somewhat European stage race feel to it.

The first stage would be one of the tougher ones with 67km and almost 1500m of vertical ascent before us. We started at the Knysna Elephant Park which provided my Austrian friends, aka ‘the tourists’ with much enjoyment. The weather was playing its part but as we found out later on in the day it hadn’t in the weeks before and the forest was a mud bath in areas. I was struggling with some stomach issues coming into the race and when the gas was turned on I couldn’t do much more than watch as the other teams rode away from us some 15km into the stage. Hasi and I took the stage rather conservatively hoping that I would be on it for stage two. We rolled over in a respectable 3rd position in the team competition.

Ishmail protecting our nervous tourists from the ‘big bad elly’

Getting ready for the start.

I woke up feeling considerably better on Saturday morning and managed to eat a bit more than what I had yesterday. We started off conservatively again and found ourselves with the Rocky Mountain pair of Cooper and Hayley up the main berg of the day. I was feeling great and over the top we managed to drop the pair. We kept the gas on as we started the descent and opened the gap a bit. This is when amateur hour started. In the excitement of feeling better and duelling the Rocky Mountain pair I hadn’t eaten much, in addition to me eating less than half of what I usually do my sugar low was met with low reserves and KAABOOOM I blew.. very badly. I think Hasi thought we were on a Sunday morning coffee ride as I struggled through to the finish. We held onto 3rd team but lost massive chunks of time. The unfortunate thing about feeling the way I did was that I was not able to take full advantage of the magnificent buffet spread put on by Tapa’s restaurant every lunch and dinner, I may have come home having put on a good few kilos!

I again woke up feeling better and wanted to make amends for a poor showing through the first two days. Within minutes of starting the stage I started guzzling down anything and everything I had stuffed into my pockets. Bear Grylls once said the key to survival is ‘if you see a kilojoule, eat it’. This I almost did, bar stopping for a squashed beetle track side. Unfortunately for the Rocky Mountain pair they had tyre troubles early on into the stage. We hung in with the lead group being driven by the Contego pair of Bressler and Venter for a bit longer than previous days. I wasn’t amazing but better. We did have a chain problem when I bent a link but we managed to sort this out with a new one and we were on our way again, clawing our way through the teams who had passed us. Fortunately today Eskom didn’t cut the power short and we managed to finish a more respectable second team behind the Contego boys. We had made some time back on Rocky Mountain but not enough for second overall.

It was a good showing for the other Asrin boys as we placed 3 teams in the Top 10, with Nizaam and Ludi finishing in 6th place and Ishmail and Phillips in 8th. If there was a ‘team’ team prize we could have one that perhaps?

Once again a big thank you to Asrin for the opportunity to go and do the race, thanks Nizaam and Ishmail.

Thanks to my partner Hasi for being patient with me through the race.

Thank you to Louise and her Garden Route Events team for putting on a fantastic event and to RECM for backing it.

Final Results:

  1. Contego 28E
  2. Rocky Mountain
  3. Asrin Cycling Team
  4. Merrel Pro
  5. Epic Speed Merchants
  6. Asrin Cycling Team
  7. Karoo Octopus
  8. Asrin Cycling Team
  9. Generation Gap
  10. Flavourome

WPCA Winter League Gunners Circle

Over the last two months I have thoroughly enjoyed the racing on the road that has been put on by WPCA (Western Province Cycling Association) and more specifically Graham Ward. It has been great to have a winter road league again and it provided great variation when mixing it in with my mountain bike racing. I have managed to do most events on the series bar when a mountain bike race takes precedence and I’m hoping to sneak onto the overall podium. Unfortunately I’ll be missing the final event his coming weekend so we will have to wait and see.

Gunners Circle was the host venue for the second time in the series and as I had known from past experience the circuit is particularly flat with only two ‘climbs’ as the road tilts upwards in the form of a bridge over the railway tracks. It is also doesn’t have any corners which makes it particularly difficult to split the race up as fellow mountain biker James Reid (360 Life) and I found out.

We attempted to force a break and managed to get one going some 20 kilometres in the race. We were joined by 3 other riders and seemed to be working well together. After some confusion as we passed one of the other category bunches racing on the day the cat 1 bunch caught us again some 50 kilometres into the 70 kilometre race.

There were a few more efforts off the front but the right mix of teams was yet to go off the front and hence nothing stuck. I did manage to comfortably win the second sprint prime of the day through this part of the race.

Towards the end of the penultimate lap I saw an opportunity to get up the road and joined Peter Wheeler and Alex Heward (Smith and Associate/O-Bike/Maties) as they attacked and we soon managed to build up a decent gap. We seemed to hold this for a bit before the bunch decided we were not to be and applied the pressure to bring us in.

With about 4km to go as the bunch was about to catch us I took a chance and attacked again hoping there would be a slight hesitation in their chase giving me the gap I would need. I didn’t look back and pushed the pedals as hard as I could but was reeled in some 2km later, 2km out.

The race wasn’t over yet! My legs surprisingly didn’t feel too lactic filled yet and I pushed my way back into the top 10 riders. A few guys tried to hit it out from far but weren’t successful. I was a bit boxed in on the left hand side of the road coming into the last 500m but snuck through a small gap into a decent position and kicked as hard as I could with my 25-12 cassette on. I was a bit under geared on the flat run in but had timed my sprint relatively well and with a big bike throw across the line came in 2nd behind Heward with Leonardo van Onselen (Flanderia) rounding out the podium.

The final sprint, I’m on the far right.

The podium.

It was a great day racing once again and was topped with a spin around to Camps Bay for a spot of breakfast.

WP XCO Provincial Contermanskloof

With the racing that took place this last weekend at Contermanskloof it seems that the popularity of the Olympic discipline of mountain biking is on the rise again in the Cape. What is particularly pleasing is the number of younger athletes taking part!

The course set out included two single track climbs with a few steep punchy sections thrown in through the vineyards for good measure and a long downhill single track with a few switch backs and a fun fast section down to the dam. There wasn’t anything particularly technical but as the course was ridden in more it became more fun. The Cape Winter was kind to us as we had sunny warm conditions on the day!

Downhill single track.

Image Credit: Chris Hitchcock

Personally it was my first XCO race in a while and with training having shifted focus somewhat I haven’t been working on my speed as much and I felt the effects of this. I anticipated the usual fast start with the likes of James Reid (360 Life) Dom Calitz (Protek) and a host of the usual cape mountain bikers in attendance and fast it was!

I managed to settle into a rhythm which I felt comfortable with and one which I could maintain through the race, I found a companion in Michael Casey from the Maties team and we spent most of the race together.

The more conservative start paid dividends as we started to real in guys who had started faster than us as the laps ticked by. Casey (an U23 rider) proved a bit too strong for me on the last lap as I started to cramp up a bit. I backed off a bit and rode in conservatively to the finish as I knew I was lying 1st in the Elite men’s race.

Accelerating out a corner.

Image Credit: Chris Hitchcock

Nizaam took part in his first XCO race ever and had a great day out finishing in a very solid 7th place in the competitive sub-vets category.

Nizaam at his start.

In the U23 race James took a convincing win with Dom in second and Craig Boyes (Daiken Gu) in 3rd. I managed to win the elite race with Grant Kruger in 2nd and an old Maties compatriot Willie ‘Big Blade’ Brink rounding out the podium.

The Elite Podium.